Who is Ear & Speak?

Ear & Speak was established in 2002 in Melbourne, Australia, by Dr Duncan Markham, an experienced lecturer and researcher in phonetics and psycholinguistics. Please see more at the main Ear & Speak website.

QUESTIONS: Accent Intensive

How do you assess my accent?

We provide you with materials/tasks so that you can make some useful recordings. The materials have been specially designed to check a wide range of accent issues. We listen carefully to these recordings and identify the most serious issues.

How do you decide which issues are most important?

A number of factors are considered when we prepare for the Accent Intensive:

  • Your occupation and likely audience when speaking
  • The likely difficulty of making certain changes within a short time
  • If you have told us of specific things you already want to work on

Is the Accent Intensive similar to Ear & Speak's normal face-to-face training?

To some extent, yes, but in the Accent Intensive we aren’t spending time on the bigger picture. We won’t point out other accent issues, and we won’t correct grammar and vocabulary use. The Accent Intensive is designed for maximum progress on some focused issues.

Can I do the Accent Intensive entirely via Skype instead of face-to-face?

No. We know that face-to-face always works better than training online. We do not believe that you would make the progress you desire if you do it via Skype. As our goal is always the best progress for our client, we can’t with good conscience offer the Accent Intensive via Skype.

QUESTIONS: Accent Reduction at Home

How do you assess my accent?

We provide you with materials/tasks that you will need to record on your phone or computer. The recordings will take you about 15 minutes, and can be done in small sections if necessary. (The technical details are explained once you’ve registered.)

The materials have been specially designed to check a wide range of accent issues. We listen carefully to these recordings and identify the issues which are likely to be causing the most problems for people listening to you speak.

A report is prepared containing 4-8 of the most important issues (the number varies depending on how complex each issue is).

How do you decide which issues are most important?

A number of factors are considered when we prepare the report:

  • Your reasons for joining the Accent Reduction at Home program
  • Your occupation and likely audience when speaking
  • Your language background and how much English you speak
  • Your answers to the language questionnaires after registration
  • The likely difficulty of making certain changes

How is Ear & Speak's Accent Report different from other diagnostic products on the market?

  • First and foremost, the Ear & Speak Accent Report is designed and intended for you to work with independently, whereas most other products are intended as a “pre-training diagnosis/overview” or sometimes even as just a marketing tool for face-to-face services.
  • The level of useful, practical detail in the report, in terms of both feedback and instruction, is unmatched by any other service (to our knowledge).
  • We deliberately focus you on the most important issues, rather than giving you a checklist of every type of mistake and then leaving you not knowing what to do next.
  • The personalisation of the Accent Report encompasses the report itself and the unique Your Sounds webpages that you will have access to.

Who is the Accent Reduction at Home program suitable for?

It is most suitable for second-language speakers of English with strong to moderate accents. It might also be suitable for some native (first-language) speakers of a different dialect of English if they are having frequent problems making themselves understood.

You don’t need to know a lot about the technical details of English pronunciation, but you will need to try to understand some of the symbols used in dictionaries in order to solve some problems effectively. We try to explain things as simply as possible, but as changing your accent is difficult, some details will still be unfamiliar and perhaps challenging. That’s why we recommend working with a friend or tutor who knows a bit about English pronunciation, so that they can try to help with the more challenging parts.

High-quality face-to-face specialist training is always the best solution because explanations and solutions can be adapted to the learner.

Are you going to make me sound Australian?

The report focuses on issues that cause problems for people trying to understand you, and as you’re living in Australia, the listeners are people who are expecting Australian English as the basic “model” of English.

However, as long as your accent/pronunciation can be easily understood by listeners, the focus in the report is not on Australian English.

If you tell us in the questionnaires that form part of the assessment process that you would prefer to sound Australian, then of course some of the issues we identify may be different for you than for someone who only wants to be clearly understood.

How can I use the Accent Report?

We’ve designed the report so that each problem is described in detail with clear examples, so that you can work by yourself or with a friend or tutor. The Your Sounds webpages provide additional material (wordlists, audio, video) for many of your issues. (See the Sample page.)

To get the most benefit, you’ll need to make time for frequent practice and make sure you try to make the necessary changes in your everyday communication.

Can I achieve the same progress using the information in the report as I would if I were attending face-to-face training?

Probably not. That’s why we recommend high-quality face-to-face training for anyone who can access that service. But as not everyone lives in a major city or has time to attend training, the Accent Reduction at Home program is a very useful compromise.

Can I have face-to-face training with Ear & Speak as well?

This online/self-study course is aimed at people who can’t regularly attend specialist face-to-face training, but infrequent special face-to-face sessions would certainly help you maximise your learning. In our opinion, if you can regularly attend  specialist face-to-face training, you should do that instead of the Accent Reduction at Home program, as face-to-face is fundamentally more effective.

If you would like to combine Accent Reduction at Home with infrequent special face-to-face training, make sure you discuss this idea with us beforehand.

Can I have Skype training with Ear & Speak as well?

We don’t offer an online training service, as our long years of experience show that it just isn’t as effective as it needs to be for real results. We’ve also heard from some of our clients that online accent courses are usually too basic and weakly personalised. This is one of the reasons we developed the Accent Reduction at Home product. We feel it’s the appropriate solution for people who can’t attend specialist face-to-face training but are able and willing to work independently.

Customers can book a discounted 15-minute Skype appointment for explanation of anything that is unclear in the report (more details when you enquire).

Customers can also book short Skype appointments to help solve difficult problems which they are having trouble with.

I am overseas. Can I use the Accent Reduction at Home service?

At the moment we are prioritising customers in Australia. We will consider expanding the service during 2018.